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Watching this stock market go up and down, an investor could end up with a neck strain -- not to mention a severe headache.

So let's turn our attention to the bond market, where we see the upgrades for the third quarter going to those funds invested in mortgage, municipal and investment grade bonds. Now, this doesn't mean these sectors are all experiencing favorable conditions, but the funds as individuals have fared well in the context of the turmoil due to specific characteristics.

Below are three of the more interesting strategies being employed.


First Trust/FIDAC Mortgage Income Fund


, which is leveraged to the tune of 30% and very focused with 92% of its assets invested in its top-10 mortgage securities. The balance is in government bonds. The fund trades at a 14% discount to its net asset backing.

Another interesting fund in the list is the

Nuveen North Carolina Dividend Advantage Municipal Fund


, which as the name suggests, invests in the municipal obligations issued by local and state government authorities within North Carolina. The recent upgrade of this fund may suggest there is increased investor confidence that the state of North Carolina is able to continue paying the interest on its securities at a time when municipalities are under heightened scrutiny. Although it is not diversified regionally, the fund is spread out in regard to its holdings, with 30% of assets invested in the top 10. A drawback is that it only trades at a 4% discount -- in the current circumstances, at least a double-digit discount is warranted.

If you don't like North Carolina but still want a regional-specific muni fund,

BlackRock Municipal Trust


is another option. It trades at a higher discount of 6.5% but still not enough to provide safety given the current market conditions.

Closed End Upgrades

Sam Patel, CFA, is the manager of mutual fund research for the Ratings.

In keeping with TSC's Investment Policy, employees of Ratings with access to pre-publication ratings data must pre-clear any potential trade through the legal department, and are prohibited from trading any security that is the subject of an unpublished rating revision until the second business day after the rating is published.

While Patel cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback;

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